But civil rights group Liberty cautioned that the ongoing change of restrictions threatens to cause mass confusion for police and the public.
“Tougher enforcement of confusing rules based on incredibly vague guidelines is a recipe for injustice,” said Sam Grant, head of policy for the campaign. “Police must support people to stay safe, but a focus on criminal justice will only undermine the public’s confidence in their efforts. “.
The new hard-line approach emerged in enforcement as a number of policemen issued strict warnings that officers were more likely to impose fines rather than offer advice or guidance
Wiltshire Police Chief Keir Pritchard said his officers “will move into enforcement much faster” when they discover that people are “grossly violating the rules.”
“So far, police forces have focused on engaging, promoting messages within our communities and encouraging the public to comply in the first place, and only revert to enforcement when we encounter deliberate or repeated violations,” he said in his book Wiltshire Gazette and Herald on Saturday.
“We will continue to engage with our communities but our officers will quickly move to law enforcement against those who blatantly violate the rules.”
Devon and Cornwall police also released a message on social media urging those who play sports to “stay local.”
The force’s police chief, Shaun Sawyer, said it would use more high-visibility patrols as well as deploy automatic number plate recognition technology to identify those making unnecessary trips.
He said that police work during the epidemic has become “more intense due to the length of the situation,” adding: “We will implement and there will be a tremendous amount of activity and a lot of difficult conversations if this continues.”